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Tips for the new dog owner

Written By: Amanda S

Thinking about a new four-legged addition to your family? Dogs are some of the most loyal, lovable companions you can come across, and bringing home your little furry friend will be one of the most exciting experiences of your life. It’s easy to get swept up in your new, cute little canine at first, but remember that this little puppy needs you to establish rules and boundaries. Owning a dog is both a privilege and a responsibility. We owe it to our canine family member to provide the best for them and pave the way for a successful future and life. If you’ve never owned a dog before, the training process could be a little scary. If you’re in the market for a new pup, here are some not-so-common tips to start you off on the right foot, or paw.

1. Enroll in a puppy class

Enrolling in puppy education at a local shelter or school is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your pup right from the get-go. Puppy class is not only a great tool for learning tricks and behaviors, but it is also an amazing way to get your puppy socialized with other dogs and humans, something pivotal in the early months of puppy-hood. Even if you think you can learn all the training techniques you need from books, videos, and online tutorials, nothing beats a hands-on platform with a professional right at your side. Dog experts at puppy class will also be able to tailor advice to you and your puppy, which is invaluable. Puppy class will help build communication and a great relationship between you and your dog.

2. Don’t be afraid to have an expert come to your home

Sometimes it’s a great idea to have someone come in for some one-on-one training right in your own home, especially for a first-time dog owner. This not only gives you specialized training custom and tailored to your puppy, but also better helps focus on any issues you may be having in the actual setting in which they are occurring. Don’t let cost deter you from this option; there are many quality and certified trainers in every state that won’t break the bank. Regardless, spending the extra money and getting expert training early on will really be a life-saver in the future and well worth it.

3. Teach them to love their cage

Your dog’s cage is a valuable tool when it comes to puppy training. Your puppy should view their cage as a safe place, as a home. Right off the bat, get your puppy accustomed to their cage. Need to shower or do laundry? Put your puppy in their cage while you do so. Try to avoid only putting your puppy in their cage when you need to leave the house, and definitely never use their cage as a punishment.

5. Make the vet a fun place

For most dogs, they soon learn that the vet is not a very fun place to be, and really, can you blame them? Most trips, especially in the first few months, involve nothing but countless shots, strangers touching and prodding them, blood tests and cold scary tables. Most people only take their dogs to the vet when they have a scheduled appointment for something, and your dog quickly learns and associates a trip to the vet with something frightening and painful. Talk to your vet and figure out when their “down times” are. Take your pup for spontaneous trips to the vet when you don’t have anything scheduled. Bring some treats and maybe even some toys. Most vets are more than willing to spend a few minutes giving your dog treats or playing with them. This makes a trip to your vet less predictable to your dog, and helps to ease their nerves for future visits.

4. Puppy proof

Puppies get into trouble- it’s inevitable. It’s in your puppy’s nature to explore. When puppies do get into mischief, we are usually quick to point our fingers at the dog. The truth is, it’s never your dog’s fault that they got into something they shouldn’t have; it’s ours as owners. It is OUR responsibility to puppy proof the house and make sure nothing is accessible to our fur babies that shouldn’t be. Mad that your puppy got hold of some toilet paper? Take a step back and think of how and why. Most likely you left the bathroom door open. Owning a puppy will call for some lifestyle changes, but never blame your puppy. We are supposed to be the responsible ones, so puppy-proof your home and make sure that it is safe and comfortable for your new family member.

Remember, you set the tone for what your relationship will be like between you and your puppy. Utilize these tips to help ensure a great start to puppy-hood and beyond. Be patient, reward your dog for a job well done, and most importantly, don’t forget to shower your dog with love and enjoy everything owning a new puppy brings! Happy training!

Ways to help your dog overcome the fear of water

Written By: Erica Wagner

There are several ways to help your dog overcome his or her fear of water. Some hold the belief that depending on the breed, some dogs are doomed to be afraid of water. In most cases however, the fear of water comes from a bad experience in the past. It’s possible your pup almost drowned as a puppy, or a previous owner may have used water as a form of punishment. Water is everywhere; from his water bowl to the puddle outside, it’s impossible to shield your dog from water.

Ways to introduce them to water

When trying to get your dog to overcome his fear, you must approach it with assertiveness and gentleness. It isn’t a bad thing, and often it is beneficial, to use positive reinforcements such as treats or their favorite toy(s). As the owner, you want to start out small and work your way up to larger areas of water. For example, if your pup is afraid of even its water bowl, try to make it fun and exciting for him or her. When your dog drinks out of it, reward it with a treat verbal praise. When they make an improvement, it’s important to acknowledge it. For some, it may take longer than others so it’s important to not get frustrated.

A common fear with a lot of dogs is rain. When it rains they seem to run for the hills when it’s time to go out. Instead of doing their business in the grass, they resort to a cement patio or deck. Oftentimes the wetness of the grass on their paws can give them anxiety because they don’t know what it is. During this time, take your dog outside and play ball or another activity that they enjoy doing. Eventually, your dog will associate this time with a fun activity compared to something negative.

In regards to bath time, which is always a tough one, you want to exercise your patience as much as ever. Start out by taking your dog to where the bath will take place. Without forcing, guide it to the area and reward him or her. Practice just this step a few times so your dog will remember that by going into the bathing area, they will be rewarded. When it comes time to get down to business, run a nice lukewarm bath. The water should not be too hot or cold because this may shock them. Whatever products or items you use during this time, you want to first make sure that you let your dog sniff out whatever it may be. This gives them the opportunity to check it out so they won’t be scared. It may take quite a few times until you see some improvement, but don’t give up and remember to be patient!

Things to avoid

When it’s time to take them out to do their business and they’re being reluctant, don’t yell or force them. Doing either of those things will heighten their anxiety and may very well put you back further than you started. The same thing goes for bath time. Also, you don’t want to let your own frustrating and disheartening emotions and feelings take over if it seems like progress isn’t being made. Don’t forget to persevere through the frustrating times and practice, practice, practice. In no time your furry friend will be making progress in no time!

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